Federer, Djokovic braced for ‘shootout’

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will contest the final of the US Open in what the Swiss second seed dubbed a 'straight shootout'.

The 34-year-old Federer is bidding to become the oldest winner at Flushing Meadows since Ken Rosewall in 1970.

Playing in his seventh final in New York City and his 27th grand slam final overall, the 17-time major winner has played like a man reborn on the North American swing.

Since losing to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final for the second successive year in June, Federer has won all 28 sets he has played in.

At Flushing Meadows this month, Federer has won approximately 80 per cent of all points on his first serve and has been broken only twice in 82 games.

Whilst Federer's demolition of compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the semis was impressive, Djokovic's dismantling of defending champion Marin Cilic in the other last-four match provided some insight into the challenge the world number two will face in Sunday's final.

Top seed Djokovic lost only three games against Cilic, who carried an ankle injury coming into the match, in what ended up being the most one-sided grand slam final in history.

Despite his undoubted prowess on all surfaces, Djokovic has never been a fan favourite and Federer is well aware that he goes into the match as the spectators' preferred winner.

"I definitely think if there would be more on my side that will give me a lift and extra energy and momentum possibly. That could swing the match a little bit," said Federer.

"But other than that, obviously Novak is a great player. Both of us have played in all tough conditions, and you've got to play well to beat him. There is no question about that."

There are also some other sub-plots going into the match, after Djokovic's coach Boris Becker called Federer's new-found love of chipping and charging into the net on the opponent's second serve "disrespectful".

Djokovic wasn't as dismissive as the German legend, instead calling it a tactic he wouldn't employ.

"I haven't considered doing that. It's an exciting shot for him. For the player opposite side of the net, not so much. So I have nothing else to say about that," said the Serb on Friday.

Federer takes a 21-20 lead in their career match-ups into Sunday's final, having beaten the world number one in their most recent encounter in the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, a tournament he won without dropping his serve.

He also holds a 3-2 lead over Djokovic in the 'Big Apple', although Djokovic has won the last two – the 2010 and 2011 semi-finals, both of which went to five sets.

Federer added that his matches against Djokovic tend to be somewhat predictable, in the sense that neither player has to adjust their game much to challenge the other.

"With Novak it's been more straightforward. That's what I like about the rivalry. I feel like he doesn't need to adjust his game as much," said the Swiss.

"I think it's just a straight shootout, and I think that's the cool thing about our rivalry.

"It's very athletic. We both can handle each other — whatever we present to one another, and I think our matches, it's very even."

Sunday's title match will be Djokovic's sixth at the US Open, having won the title in 2011 and lost in the 2007, '10, '12 and '13 finals.

It will also be the sixth time they have played this season – all of which in finals – with Djokovic winning on three occasions.

"We we all know how consistent Roger is and how good he is in the latter stages of a Grand Slams and any other big tournament," said Djokovic, a nine-time major winner.

"He's always going to perform on a high level. Rarely he drops his level. He always makes you play your best.

"I know that he's also lately being very aggressive coming to the net, mixing up, and trying to shorten out the points. I think also he improved his speed.

"His defensive game is better than it was. Maybe healthier."

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